Introduction: Upgrade an OLD Metal Shed Exterior

Picture of Upgrade an OLD Metal Shed Exterior

Upgrade an OLD Metal Shed Exterior

Lots of people have one of those dented, rusting old tin sheds wasting away in the back yard where they keep the yard tools, lawnmower, and associated stuff, and cringe every time they see it. You try to cover it up with vines and flowers, but it doesnt quite cut it. It would be nice to replace it with a nice wooden one...and wouldnt it be nice to have a few thousands dollars to replace it too eh?


  • Tape measure Saw (ideally chop saw and table saw)
  • Level
  • Screw Driver / Outdoor Screws
  • Hammer Drill (wood and tin)
  • Chalk line or tape and string (optional) to mark strapping lines.
  • Pencil and some larger newspaper/cardboard for marking cuts and angles.
  • Another person to hold up the strapping.


  • Pressure Treated Lumber 2x4's for door frame and support and strapping 1x6's fence boards 1x2's for crack filling 1x3's for bottom baseboard
  • Door latch Door Hinges 4


  • Hanging basket support arms
  • Window frames backed by a mirror
  • Gingerbread for the peak

So, since the shed is still serviceable, just ugly, we are going to put some lipstick on the pig and make do for another few years. For just over a hundred bucks, we can doll it up and fake it till we make it.

(note: I forgot to take pictures of the shed before we were done, so my partner's shed which is basically the same is standing in for the before picture while the final version is at our neighbours' Kim and Brian's.)

Step 1: Cleanout the Shed, Remove the Doors, and Reinforce the Doorframe

Picture of Cleanout the Shed, Remove the Doors, and Reinforce the Doorframe

First thing to do is empty the shed so you can work in it. You will be spending a while inside, so, if it is hot, bring a fan to cool you down or be resigned to frequent beverage breaks. lol.

Next, sliding doors on tin sheds are uniformly awful, so we remove them and the mechanisms and reinforce the doorframe with 2x4's on each side up to the top of the opening, which is usually a lip in the tin. You can just screw these right to the tin where the strapping from the next step will be.

Step 2: Install Horizontal Mounting Strapping

Picture of Install Horizontal Mounting Strapping

Next thing to do is to horizontally strap the inside and outside of the shed (with 1x2's to save money) or (to save hassle) wider pieces like a 2x4 or 1x6 fence boards for ease of placing the screws. Here we used 1x2's but they were a pain.After the fact, my partner noted that if you use 2x4's you can put big nails in them to hang things, or even install SHELVING on them in your next project. (note: help the neighbour and make all the mistakes on his dime right? hehaha).

The inside seams on the shed will determine the height of the strapping. The strapping is screwed through the tin into the opposite strapping from the outside. So the vertical straps have somewhere to be attached. Three horizontal straps are required. One near the bottom, one near the top, and one on top of the middle seam.

Drill tiny pilot holes on the corners of the shed at the heights of the strapping from the inside.You can use string and a level or just wing it. It makes holding up the outside strap easier if you use the pilot holes and mark the outside with string or chalkline.

Step 3: Mount the Vertical Boards Onto the Strapping on Outside

Picture of Mount the Vertical Boards Onto the Strapping on Outside

The front of the shed and the sides will all be roughly the same length, so we just lined the boards up around the shed to estimate the gap, and see if we needed to cut one vertically Which you can probably get the lumber yard to do if you are near the end and ask nice). A jig saw, or even an axe might do if you are desperate.

Measure what you need as you go, and slide them up under the lip in the tin around the lintel or the roof. Use the level to get them straight if need be and try to minimize the gaps.

On the front, start attaching boards at the door gap, and work your way out so any vertically cut boards will be on the outer corners. Put 6 screws into each board (two into each strap, all the way through the outer one, through the tin, and most of the way into the inner strapping ideally). All screws are done from the outside, pointing inward, for a nice smooth look on the outside. IF need be, put some kind of cover, foam, cap, or even cardboard on any screw points that stick out if you are the type who cant avoid hitting dangerous things after you are done.

If the shed is old, the walls may be dented, bent, crooked or otherwise ununiform, so align the tops nicely and the irregularities can be hidden on the bottom later with baseboard.

The back of the shed if you are doing it, is more pointed, so some of the cutting will have to be on an angle along the roofline. You can use some paper, cardboard, or similar to mark the angle needed and cut on the angle required. Be sure to buy boards large enough to reach the peak. The boards are installed the same way.

Step 4: Bottom Outside Baseboard

Picture of Bottom Outside Baseboard

Once the vertical boards are all attached, make a nice baseboard all around the bottom of the shed using 1x3's. This will hide all the cutting mistakes mismeasuring the vertical boards, and makes it look nice. Leave a gap for the doors of course. To get fancy you can chamfer the corners on a 45 but we were lazy and just left them flat.

Step 5: Front Peak Horizontals

Picture of Front Peak Horizontals

Depending on if you have a front vent, the front peak will just be a horizontal board, or two. The cut will be a bit of an angle. It should just fit under the lip of the roof line. You can put a few inches of strapping verticaly on the inside to hold it on like the rest of the boards. If you have a vent, just frame around it and cover it with screen or mesh if need be. Luckily we didnt have that problem.

Step 6: Doors on a Budget

Picture of Doors on a Budget

You can make the doors as fancy as you want, but here we just went with 3 2x4 pieces horizontally and with vertical boards screwed into them, and some small horizontal supports on the top corners (larger ones interfere with the doorframe at the top.

The hinges can be screwed from the outside right into the vertical boards, but we placed the horizontal 2x4s where the hinges are located for extra support. the 2x4s you installed to re-enforce the door frame in step one support the other side of the hinge when you screw them into it.

Install the doors and then put on the door latch once they are swinging nicely.

Put pieces of base boards on the bottom of the doors to match the outside of the rest of the shed, and we put another one up the edge of the right door to cover the gap in the doors, and to prevent them from closing in too much into the inside of the shed. We had to use two pieces with a gap where the latch is. You could make this fancier if you want.

Step 7: Vertical Gap Fixing Boards

Picture of Vertical Gap Fixing Boards

Now since the gaps in the vertical boards all around might have some gaps, we cut a bunch of 1x2's the height of the vertical boards (minus the baseboard) and screwed them right into the vertical boards (just one screw top, mid, and bottom) to make everything look intentional, and cover up any mistakes. Painting the shed black first would have been smart too...but afterthoughs right?

Step 8: Final Touches and Suggestions for More Fanciness.

Picture of Final Touches and Suggestions for More Fanciness.

At the end, we attached some dollar store hanging basket supports, and put in two baskets of nice plants for that illusion of sophistication.

You can make the shed fancier if you want, but it looks pretty good at this point.

We think we might add a small strap along the roof line of wood, so you cant see the tin at the front.

Other suggested upgrades include gingerbread on the roof peek. Some old window frames backed with old or dollar store mirrors screwed onto the walls. Window boxes would be a nice touch.

A trellis or two can also be easily attached.

We didnt want to make the roof leak by screwing into it, and because it was out of sight, we left it, but you could maybe use some plywood sheets on either side held together with hinges or metal straps, tack in some cedar shakes onto the plywood and then just set it on top if you are into that.



ggallen103 (author)2017-07-27

Excellent - My existing shed isn't that bad given it came with the house 25 years ago....doors are broken. The cost of a replacement is more than the lumber required. I was originally only going to fix the doors with wood and hinges - but I like this idea far better!

RickyRialto made it! (author)2017-06-09

Thanks for the inspiration. My tools were getting rained on and now they're dry again. My cost was higher with the roof and use of more lumber to support the shed frame but it was a great way to work around new ordinances that would have made me need to rip up concrete and re pour it a foot further in from my property line.

JohnathanG9 (author)2016-07-12

How's the wood holding up?

solipsism (author)JohnathanG92016-07-12

hard not to make a joke given that line, but....

at the neighbour's trailer, havent been there. Same as a fence i would assume. pressure treated.

joevans (author)2014-07-09

What was the cost?

solipsism (author)joevans2014-07-10

little over a hundred canadian.

The fence boards are the main cost and they were 2-3 dollars each. and you need about 60 of them depending on the size of the shed. 6 inchesx16=8' shed.

ChrisB461 (author)solipsism2016-05-12

Did you account for ants and bugs nesting between boards and metal?

solipsism (author)ChrisB4612016-05-12

hasnt been a problem. I guess the metal gets too hot. We dont really have that problem much here in canada though.

RonaldR38 (author)2016-03-15

If I used 2x4 on the inside as strapping, what kind of screws would work the best? Will the 2x4's be too heavy for the metal? Thanks for any help!

solipsism (author)RonaldR382016-03-15

no idea. but logically the vertical boards probably touch the ground so they would bear the weight. The screws just have to be long enough to get through the outside and into the inner strapping reasonably.

MaryR82 made it! (author)2016-03-13

It looks great! It took an afternoon and cost about $100 US. Completely made over the look of a horrible metal shed with a missing door.

solipsism (author)MaryR822016-03-13

glad to be of help.

MaryR82 (author)2016-02-28

Wow! I have an old metal shed with one door completely missing. Was at a loss what to do until I was this. The shed is basically in good shape except for the missing door so I am going to try this.

Bannockburn (author)2014-07-11

This looks like a lot more than "lipstick on a pig", nice work. With the way it turned out I hope it lasts for a lot longer than a few years for you. It is making me wish I had a beat up old shed in my yard to rehab.

jrwalker831 (author)2014-07-10


ckoehler1904 (author)2014-07-07

Looks like it costs much more than it did. Great job!

Topcat2021 (author)2014-07-06

That is a wonderful look on an old shed I love the board and batten design that you have achieved. Good job, keep up the good work


Robibame (author)2014-07-06

that turned out real nice.

About This Instructable




Bio: Graphic Designer/Physicist in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada. I specialize in Photoshop fantasy creations. I always need some work if you need something designed. My website ... More »
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